The New York City Housing Authority's (NYCHA) newest community center was officially opened last month for residents of Throggs Neck Houses, Randall-Balcom Houses and the surrounding community in the Bronx. The newly renovated 18,000 square foot Community Center, located at 550 Balcom Avenue, was officially opened by the many partners who worked together to make the Center a reality. They included executives from NYCHA and the Kips Bay Boys and Girls Club, the Center's sponsor, elected officials, the development's Resident Association leader and residents.
The $7.3 million expansion doubled the size of the original center, adding a new gymnasium with adjacent locker rooms, a dance studio, classrooms, and a computer lab.
NYCHA Chairman Tino Hernandez commended the highly dedicated team of elected officials who represent the Throggs Neck community, many of whom were present, including Senator Jeffrey D. Klein, Assemblyman Michael Benedetto, and Council Member James Vacca. Also speaking was Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD) Commissioner Jeanne Mulgrav, whom the Chairman thanked for her agency's role in providing funding for the site under the Mayor's Out Of School Time (OST) program. The Chairman also had kind words for Kips Bay Executive Director Daniel Quintero, and Throggs Neck Resident Association President Dwayne Jenkins.
Mr. Quintero, who described himself as a product of Kips Bay, spoke passionately about the collaboration between NYCHA and the 90-year-old organization he represents, as well as the OST program. The OST program at Throggs Neck is just one of 32 OST programs slated for 24 NYCHA facilities. OST provides activities for youth at those times of the day when they are most likely to be alone.
Kips Bay is providing programs and services for 200 youth a day from ages six to 18 at the Throggs Neck Center. There is a long list of activities and programs for youth to enjoy, including Partners In Reading, a literacy program for children in the first through the third grades, arts and crafts, a computer lab and recreational activities. "We will also be able to bring youth to the Kips Bay main site on Randall Avenue [in the Bronx], once a week," said Center Director Donald Jenkins. There, youth will be able to skate on the only ice rink in the borough and swim in the pool.
Long-time Throggs Neck resident Sandy McCartney, who sang an opening song with other members of the NYCHA Senior Chorus, said there was "no comparison" between the new center and the old. "Before it was over 60 years old. This is a brand new house."